Air Conditioners vs. Heat Pumps: Which One Is Best for Your Home?

If it is time to replace the air conditioner in your home, you have two options available:  heat pumps or a more conventional air conditioner. What's the difference between the two, and which one is better for your home? This guide has everything you need to know to make the right decision.

What Is the Difference?

If you're not familiar with these two choices, you may not know that there is a difference between air conditioners and heat pumps. The difference actually isn't that large. Since an air conditioner pumps warm air out of your home and cool air in with the use of a refrigerant, it is technically a type of heat pump. The difference between the two is that you can reverse a heat pump to pump warm air into your home from outside, which an air conditioner cannot do.

Cost Differences

The cost difference between running a heat pump and an air conditioner isn't that much. In fact, the difference is as little as 5%. The real difference comes in the installation fees. If you're looking at heat pumps for sale, you'll see that you will be looking at extra costs in setting one up and you should talk to an HVAC expert to see how much you'll need to budget for the installation.

Climate Concerns

HeatPumpSplitSystemOne of the primary considerations when picking the right system for your home is the climate you live in. Depending on how hot or cold it gets where you live, you'll find one system is better than the other. If you live in a colder climate, an air conditioner is a better option as heat pumps don’t work as well once the temperature drops to 40 degrees or lower over an extended period of time. When this happens, heat pumps switch to emergency heat mode which requires the use of heat strips and more power usage overall. In this type of climate, an air conditioner, supplemented with a furnace or boiler works much better.

However, if you live in an area that's warmer than average, a heat pump will work better for you. Given the right circumstances, a heat pump is more efficient at pumping warm air out of your home and keeping it at a comfortable temperature year-round.

Differences in System Setups

Air conditioners and heat pumps come in various configurations, and some are better for certain types of homes than others. Your choice of system will depend on what you prefer in your home, and how much you want to spend on installation. For example, take a heat split system which utilizes a heat pump, connected through refrigerant lines to the rooms in your home that need cooling. This system provides each room with an indoor unit that disperses the cooled air and is great as it allows you to only cool the air in the rooms you're using and avoid paying to cool areas that you don’t use. Split system heat pumps are a popular option among many homeowners, but ultimately you should talk to an HVAC expert to see what would be right for you.

Energy Efficiency

If you're looking for the most efficient cooling system for your home, you'll want to look into a heat pump as opposed to an air conditioning unit. While they'll cost slightly more to install, you'll find that you spend less on energy in the long run as you use it. In fact, some utility companies or local governments may even give you a tax rebate for using one.

Focus on The Climate

Since air conditioners and heat pumps work very similarly in terms of cooling your home, you'll want to base your choice on their heating capabilities in the area in which you live. If you live in a milder climate, a heat pump could be a perfect choice. Those living in colder regions may find that an air conditioner with an alternative heating system works best for their homes. As you can see, there aren't many differences between an air conditioner and a heat pump. The main things you'll need to think about the climate, energy efficiency, and cost when it comes to choosing one or the other. If you are unsure which option is the best for your situation, feel free to give one of our knowledgeable staff members, here at HAVCDirect a call. We can offer advice and guidance on finding the best solution for your cooling needs.    
January 31, 2019
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